Jump to content

Annual Post T-Day paddle (long)

Dee Hall

Recommended Posts

Due to forecasts of high winds for Friday, this trip was postponed until Saturday.

The day dawned bright and cold with grass and fallen leaves heavily frosted. Launch time wasn't until afternoon, so we were able to have a relaxing breakfast and putter around leisurely. Each trip to the car was made with fewer layers of fleece as the air warmed up quickly under the nearly cloudless skies.

The trip from Beverly to the Manchester boat ramp is short, and we were the first arrivals. I had gotten hungry on the way and decided to eat some leftovers while sitting on the chunks of granite next to the ramp. A gentleman in jeans and Wellies had backed his trailer down the ramp and was winching his boat up onto it. Since his vehicle wasn't the fisherman's traditional pickup, I suspected that he was a recreational boater. As he pulled the boat up out of the water, the accumulation of seaweed and mussels on the hull and motor confirmed this. He was silent as he spent the next half hour scraping the colonies off with a paddle, so I assume that he had nobody to rebuke but himself over this negligence.

Liz arrived just as we finished packing our boats, and David arrived soon after. By the time we were ready to carry the boats down the ramp, it was two o'clock and the woeful motorboat was gone. The tide was at that phase where the drop-off at the end of the ramp is at it's most hazardous. Our launch was slow and careful - nobody wanted to start this trip with a swim.

The tide carried us out to the outer harbor where there were a surprising number of sailboats still on the moorings. Many more were tied up two and three deep at the marina dock. Once we passed some invisible leaf blowers on a steeply graded property, we started to enjoy that peacefulness that is such a joy to us winter paddlers. The absence of boats on moorings at Tuck's Point created an unfamiliar landscape (waterscape?). It almost appeared that the channel markers were in new positions.

The southerly wind out here was brisk, meeting the outgoing tide in steep 1-2 foot chop. We headed towards Baker's to avoid the rocks by the green daymarker. A tall sloop rounded the rocks that define the eastern boundary of the harbor entrance. For a while, it headed directly for us, but moved at a pace similar to ours under just it's mainsail. About halfway across the channel, it tacked a full 180 degrees and stalled while two sailors prepared to drop the sail.

We passed the daymarker and altered our course for the shortest path to Little Misery Island. Another sailboat was observed past Baker's, but I didn't watch to see where it ended up. While we rounded the easternmost point of Great Misery, a herring gull could be seen holding a static position above it like kite. With infrequent leans and changes to wing positions, he held that position for several minutes, only moving when our proximity disturbed the dozens of other gulls resting on these rocks.

As we approached Little Misery, the sun, lightly veiled in icy cirrus haze, hung just above the treetops lighting the entire island in silhouette with a rippled reflection below. We landed and carried our food and sit-upons up onto the grass. Bob and I brought the cold staples of Thanksgiving dinner - turkey, stuffing, carrots, parsnips, turnip, and squash. Liz and David each brought pie, pecan and pumpkin respectively. We sat eating and talking for about an hour, and re-launched at close to sunset.

Our view of the sunset over the water was nearly perfect, marred only by the stacks of the Salem power station. We continued clockwise around Great Misery, back into the chop and wind which had continued unabated during our stop. We discussed targets for crossing back to the mainland, and once Bob removed his sunglasses we were able to agree upon one.

The first boat with navigation lights was seen coming out of Manchester harbor just after we finished the crossing. I turned on my headlamp so that he could see us, and then reached back to turn on my C-light. I confirmed that it had lit, and then went to help Bob turn his on. As I approached Bob's boat to raft up, I could no longer see the light from my back. When I turned Bob's C-light, it didn't light up either. I retrieved my three backup lights from my dayhatch, put the blue one on Bob's PFD, had him tie a white one to my PFD, and put the third in my teeth.

David and Liz had rafted up while Bob and I were sorting out our lighting. I approached their raft and asked if anyone needed a light. David said he had one in his hatch. We decided the one in my teeth was more convenient, so I tied it to his PFD. Liz had her headlamp on.

As we started paddling again, we started wondering where the moon was. Liz said that she thought it was responsible for the orange glow behind the trees on Tuck's Point. Sure enough, when we approached the point, the full moon came into view. There was still that icy haze we had seen around the sun, but now it appeared as if it was behind the moon. Again, the trees were backlit in stark contrast.

As we rounded the point, David started saying something about "shallow". Sure enough, there was only a few inches of water which was odd since we were only a few yards from the channel marker. This was when we realized that the channel markers had been moved. We actually had to go out into the channel (as marked) to get enough water to paddle.

As we entered the harbor, the lights from the windows of homes on either side made it feel cozy. There were no intruding street lights, just the moon and the golden glows from people sitting snug in there houses on a cold winter evening. It was like this until we came within site of the marina. Here the scene changed dramatically. The marina was awash in the cold, bright mercury arc lamps. A low-pitched moan created by wind in the tall masts was punctuated by the slap of uphauls on the same masts. It was spooky, yet beautiful in it's own way.

Again, the tide carried us under the railroad bridge. The inner harbor was not as quiet as the outer harbor with sounds of cars and a few poeple. Suddenly, we heard laughing, no make that duck quacking. The shapes of dozens of ducks could be seen on the sitting on the shoreline. A fitting end to a trip full of new sensory experiences.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...